In Summary
  • The government plans to raise the operations budget to Sh180 million in the next fiscal year and to about Sh300 million in the future.

The government has allocated Sh110 million for operations of the MV Mtafiti research vessel the country received as a gift from the Belgian government.

Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Principal Secretary Japhet Ntiba said the government plans to raise the operations budget to Sh180 million in the next fiscal year and to about Sh300 million in the future.

“With availability of funds, the ship will undertake and benefit from marine research without interruptions," he said.

Mr Ntiba said there was a delay in launching the research because no budget had been allocated for the ship’s operations.

The research vessel was commissioned last year and is is expected to make its 12-day maiden voyage this month after completion of its maintenance, a move expected to boost security of Kenya’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and help curb illegal fishing.

The oceanographic vessel will also be used to undertake stock assessment and experimental fishing to establish suitable fishing technology in the EEZ. The voyage is funded by Kenya Coastal Development Project.

Marine scientists are expected to suggest how to increase artisanal fish production from the current 7,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes and raise industrial fish production from nil at the moment to 50,000 tonnes.

Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) assistant director, oceanography and hydrography Dr Charles Magori said the vessel has enormous scientific and economic potential to push Kenya into the realm of a regional power in marine management, research and utilisation.

“Kenya also applied for an extra 150 nautical miles EEZ extension for exploitation of bottom ocean bed resources. This has been accepted, giving the country an additional 103,000kms. The ship, which can carry a crew of 47, will increase the capacity to police this area,” Dr Magori said.